Jun 21, 2020
300 years ago, the book “The History of Japan 日本誌” was published in London. This is the record of a German doctor, naturalist, Engelbert Kämpfer, who stayed in Japan two years 30 years before of the publish. The book was subsequently translated into French and Dutch, read by many of the intellectuals of the time including Goethe, Kant, Voltaire, Montescue and others, leading to the 19th century Japonisme. He did not introduce Zen, however, introduced Japanese culture, which is strongly influenced by Zen.
At that time, Dr. Kämpfer, who stayed in Nagasaki at the western end of the Japan, where was the only liberated place for foreigners under the national isolation policy. He accompanied the feudal lord who was in charge of Nagasaki and he had an audience with the shogun of Edo (Tokyo).
Along the way, when he passed the peak of Hakone 箱根 mountain, located 100 km to Edo, he spent several days staying on the shores of Lake Ashi 芦ノ湖. As a naturalist, he was enthusiastic in the collection of many plants, Japanese mountains are covered with trees and grass, because Japan is a mid-latitude region with four seasons and abundant water. Japan is actually a treasure trove of plants. This would be a different image than in Europe or the central US.
Hakone, the place where Dr. Kämpfer was fascinated to many plants and introduced to Europe, many foreigners have been visited here. 150 years ago, in the Meiji era, when the country opened and Japan became a modern nation, Hakone was developed as a mountain resort and was a summer resort for foreigners who lived in Yokohama.
Now, it has become the biggest mountain resort near Tokyo (about one hour by car). Surprisingly, Dr. Kämpfer’s achievements were introduced by Queen Elizabeth when she came to Japan. His monument stands on the shores of Lake Ashi.
The ZENJIRO’s research Institute is located overlooking Lake Ashi. Hakone Shrine 箱根神社, where many samurai prayed for victory, is also nearby. The scenery surrounding Lake Ashi is so fascinating and changes dramatically during one day. We are conducting research on products and drink style at this institute with this good environment. We hope that all of our products contribute to the health and prosperous lifestyles of many people around the world.
Next time, I will talk about the amazing walking distance in the samurai era and about walking-Zen歩行禅.